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Popular UW Lecture Series Scheduled in Pinedale Sept. 16

September 1, 2017
photos of Mark Gomelsky, Robert Kelly and Caroline McCracken-Flesher

The University of Wyoming’s one-day free public lecture series, featuring diverse topics from UW professors, will be offered in Pinedale for the first time Saturday, Sept. 16.

Saturday U -- the half day of college lectures and discussion -- will be in the Sublette County Library’s Lovatt Room, located at 155 S. Tyler Ave. The program begins with coffee and donuts at 8:30 a.m., followed by welcoming remarks at 8:50 a.m. The guest lectures begin at 9 a.m.

Participants may attend one, two or all three lectures. A free lunch and question-and-answer session will follow the program at 12:30 p.m.

“During the fall and spring terms, Saturday University visits locations throughout Wyoming discussing today’s most captivating topics,” says Saturday U Coordinator Paul Flesher, a UW religious studies professor.

In its 10th year, Saturday U is a collaborative program that connects popular UW and Wyoming community college professors with lifelong learners. Offered nine times a year -- twice each in Jackson, Gillette and Sheridan, and once in Rock Springs, Pinedale and Cody -- Saturday U is sponsored by the university, the UW Foundation and Wyoming Humanities. The program is presented locally by UW, Wyoming Humanities, Sublette BOCES and Sublette County Libraries.

“Enjoy three intriguing lectures delivered by professors from the University of Wyoming and Wyoming’s community colleges,” Flesher says. “Complimentary lunch is provided, giving participants an opportunity to engage with the speakers during a roundtable discussion following the three lectures.”

Listed below are program topic descriptions and professors lecturing:

-- 9 a.m., “How Synthetic Biology Will Change Medicine... And Us,” Mark Gomelsky, molecular biology professor.

Biology rapidly is becoming an engineering science, Gomelsky says.

“Genes -- the units of life -- can now be added to existing organisms and edited in the existing organisms,” he says. “In the near future, new cells will be created with an assortment of desired properties. That means we can change genetic programs in animals and humans. But, will synthetic biology benefit or harm humanity?”

In his talk about the coming bio-revolution, Gomelsky will describe synthetic biology and address the philosophical and ethical questions it engenders. He will describe how his UW laboratory’s research enhances the utility and safety of designer cells, and how it creates new therapeutic opportunities.

-- 10:15 a.m., “Writing the Way West: Authors in America,” Caroline McCracken-Flesher, English professor.

McCracken-Flesher says 19th century writers imagined the West as virgin territory. Robert Louis Stevenson, riding the rails across Wyoming, was disappointed; Oscar Wilde wittily saw only himself reflected in every prospect. Other explorers in literature and in land, from Walter Scott to John Wesley Powell, had already written over the West, she adds.

McCracken-Flesher will relive this race through the landscape, chasing the language that can speak for the expanse of rocks, rivers and precious few trees.

-- 11:30 a.m., “The Fifth Beginning: What Six Million Years of Human History Can Tell Us About the Future,” Robert Kelly, anthropology professor.

Kelly will discuss the four major “beginnings” of human history -- the origins of technology, culture, agriculture and the state. He will present evidence that humanity is entering a fifth beginning, one that can be expected to mark dramatic changes in world economy, war, culture and governance.

For more information, call Flesher at (307) 766-2616 or email For more information about Saturday U, visit the website at

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